Eunice Pratt was just where she should be – seated at the head of the table.
She looked bright on this rainy Thursday, eyes shining, a smile and a lay of colorful flowers around her neck. This was the annual meeting of alumni of Friends of the Warwick Public Library and a special occasion for Eunice on the celebration of her 100th birthday.
She has trouble believing she’s turned 100.
“It must be somebody else,” she says with a laugh.
Lillian Clegg, who planned for the meeting and celebration at the Warwick Country Club, laughs with her. Eunice is surely the “senior elder” of the Friends group, which was founded about 50 years ago. No one is quite sure of the year, but there was consensus that the Warwick Junior Women’s Club launched the group that continues to raise funds and assist with library programs to this day.
With an interest in education and memories of spending time in the Worcester library as a child, Eunice said joining the Friends was a natural fit.
“I think libraries were very important then and still are today,” she said.
Eunice grew up in Worcester, where her father owned “one of the first modern ice cream factories” in the region. She worked for her father and in 1946 married John Jorjorian. They had two daughters. At the age of 46, John died of a heart attack.
After many years as a widow, Eunice remarried Alfred Pratt in 1970. They regularly visited Florida and soon moved there.
Although friends and family told her she was going to love Florida, she missed Rhode Island. In 1978, the year of the blizzard, she returned.
“We moved back to the pot holes of Rhode Island,” she says wistfully. Apart from the Friends, Eunice volunteered at the South County Hospital and at Smith’s Castle.
Somewhere in her story, she moved to Warwick, and during the administration of former Mayor Joseph Walsh learned of a city job. She applied and was hired.
“They wanted to put me in accounting, but I can’t add two and two,” she said. So, instead of the finance department, Eunice settled in the personnel department, where her gift for talking with people and making them feel at ease was a natural fit. She later moved into the zoning department.
Eunice has outlived her second husband. She now lives in a North Kingstown condo within easy visiting distance of her daughters who live in Warwick and East Greenwich. She has two grandsons, one who is a graduate of West Point and serves in the Army. She delights in the fact that he made a surprise entrance at a 100th birthday luncheon at Castle Hill in Newport. The second grandson, who works at an exclusive high-end resort in the Dominican Republic, couldn’t make it.
At her party Thursday, Friends alumni gathered around Eunice to sing and wish her the best even though she insisted she couldn’t be celebrating 100 years. It had to be someone else.